Monday, June 21, 2010

Connecticut Summer Escapes

It's been hot in the city lately--I've been feeling like it's gotten too hot, too quickly.  As I write this, my computer is telling me the temperature in the Bronx is 81 degrees (at 10 pm)!!  Luckily, I have a summer escape only a few hours outside the city available to me at any time.  This past Saturday I was glad to take advantage of that luck and spent some time with my family in Connecticut.  It was nice to be away, if only for a little while. 

I'm not sure if you know this, but New Yorkers are kind of weird about Connecticut.  Most of them think that the entire state is composed of something akin to Fairfield County.  Many refer to CT as "the country", as if it is exists only for weekend getaways for the wealthy people who have "country homes".  Don't get me wrong, there are parts of the state that qualify as such for sure, but for being such a small state, Connecticut has a lot of diversity--cities, suburbs, farm-y type towns, old mill towns, pretty forested areas.  All this is to say that I'm lucky to live so close to where I grew up--a nice little suburb of Hartford. 

Although Newington is firmly a suburb, my parents' gardens and the convenient closeness of the town park had me feeling that I was one of the lucky New Yorkers who do have a vacation home in CT.  I felt that I was hidden away at some sort of countryside retreat.  Here are a few photos of the vegetable garden and the yard (and the dog Hazel)--they don't really do justice to the beautiful flowers in the other beds, but just so you get the idea:

I ended up heading to Connecticut because my family was celebrating my Grandfather's birthday and Father's day.  I spent the day helping get things ready for the party--my role was dessert maker.  I made strawberry shortcakes with fresh Connecticut-grown strawberries.  Mmmmm they were really yummy, but I have to confess........I used Bisquick to make biscuits hahaha!!  Though I aim to do as much as I can from scratch, I've learned that sometimes you have to go ahead and just use the mix.  I did make whipped cream from scratch and used the local strawberries.  Here are some fabulous photos of the strawberries themselves:

I spent a good portion of the afternoon sitting at our picnic table cutting the just-washed berries.  My sister's new puppy Dublin kept me company and snatched up any fallen fruits:

The berries were fantastic!  My Dad called me on Friday to ask me how many I needed.  He was on his way to a farm near his office.  We settled on 3 quarts, thinking we would have a lot leftover but we used them all!  I don't have photos of the finished product, but the shortcakes were delicious.  Each berry was a little bite of summer sunshine--how nice to have fresh fruit, it made a world of difference.  Berry season doesn't last long and I'm grateful I had the chance to eat them at their peak.   Of course the dessert was made sweeter being in the company of my family and the gorgerous gardens.  I love New York, but sometimes you need a summer escape!

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